EU has more 'ability than goodwill' | Uncut with Le Drian and Borrell

EU has more 'ability than goodwill'  | Uncut with Le Drian and Borrell
By Robert Hackwill
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The latest "Uncut with Daniel Cohn-Bendit" tackles the issue that has the most potential to damage the European Union.

"Uncut with Daniel Cohn-Bendit" sees the former May '68 student leader and former member of the European Parliament spend half-an-hour, unedited, in debate with two European Foreign Ministers; Jean-Yves Le Drian of France, and Josep Borrell of Spain.

One key reason being their reactions to the migrant crisis...

Le Drian, a Socialist who nonetheless was an early supporter of the centrist Emmanuel Macron, began by describing President Donald Trump as "coherent", listing all the things he has done that indicate he is following his pledge of "America First". "It is not a coherence I share" he insists, and posits a scenario in which as America retreats into isolationism. Europe, and especially the Franco-German partnership, could offer an alternative to American leadership, and a "new multilateralism".

Cohn Bendit tackles him on Europe's state of readiness to take on this role, citing the migrant crisis as evidence that Europe is not ready, as the issue creates deep divisions. Le Drian looks at how Europe is beginning to mobilise resources, through the new Intervention Fund, for example, to tackle the migration problem at its source, in the countries people are fleeing from.

Investing in Africa, he says, could fix populations at home, providing job security, and he notes a sea change in attitudes away from humanitarian aid, and co-operation between EU member states in pursuing economic development instead.

Jean-Yves Le Drian

  • Born in Lorient, Britanny, on June 30, 1947

  • Sits as a local & regional councillor from 1977-2012, and as President of the regional council from 2004-2012

  • Close to François Hollande since 1979

  • Becomes President Hollande's Defence Minister in 2012, first in the Ayrault government, and then in the Valls government until May 2017

  • Joins Emmanuel Macron's "En Marche" movement in March 2017

  • European & Foreign Affairs minister under President Macron since May 2017

Josep Borrell agrees with much of what Le Drian has to say. He believes the EU is on the verge of a "European Spring"; indeed he took part in a conference on the subject this summer. He, like Le Drian, sees an opportunity for Europe with the arrival of Donald Trump in the White House, but like Le Drian does not underplay the challenges Trump throws up.

Borrell also notes the difficulties posed by politicians like Matteo Salvini or Viktor Orban to European solidarity, but also agrees with Le Drian that countries like Greece, Italy and Spain haven't had that when they have been confronted by the burden of the migrant crisis.

Borrell insists that the "Aquarius" saga was the death blow for the Dublin agreement on migrants, which he says was a way for the northern European nations to tell the south "sort it out yourselves", and wash their hands of the problem.

Like Le Drian, he uses the phrase "a new multilateralism", and insists it can only be founded on a stronger, more sovereign Europe, which currently struggles with the "unfinished project" of the euro single currency.

Borrell notes the euro crisis was a crisis for institutional finance, while the migrant crisis is far more dangerous as it affects people's daily lives directly, is highly visible, and open to exploitation by unscrupulous political forces. Yet all this could be overcome if the will to do something was stronger, he laments, once again agreeing with Le Drian that solidarity is sorely lacking between the 27 EU members.

Finally Cohn Bendit quizzes Borrell on what happens during meetings of the EU's foreign ministers. "We cry a lot" is one of his observations.

Josep Borrell

  • Born in the Catalonian Pyrenees on April 24, 1947

  • A Socialist firmly opposed to Catalan independence

  • State secretary then minister in several Felipe Gonzalez governments

  • Was the Socialist's Prime Ministerial candidate in the 2000 elections, but forced to pull out because of financial scandal

  • President of the European parliament from 2004 to 2007

  • Foreign Minister in the Pedro Sanchez government since June 2018

This story has been updated to correct the name of Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.

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